I32 THE GAY GENIUS
Around the three hundred sixty temples,
I roamed throughout the year.
I knew the beauty of each particular spot.
Felt it in my heart but could not say it in my mouth.
Even now in my sweet sleep,
Its charm and beauty remain in my eyes and ears.
Now you come as a commissioner;
Your official pomp will insult the clouds and haze.
How can the clear streams and the purple cliffs
Reveal their beauties to you?
Why not dismiss your retinue
And borrow a couch from the monk,
Read the poems I inscribed on the rocks,
And let the cool mountain air soothe your troubled soul ?
Carry a cane and go where you like,
And stop wherever seems to you best.
You'll find some ancient fishermen
Somewhere among the reeds. Talk with them,
And if they say wise things to you,
Buy fish from them and argue not about the price."
It seems from the literary records that Su Tungpo's preoccupation at
Hangchow was with religion and women, or rather with monks and
courtesans, and the two are more closely related than we think. In Su
Tungpo the life of the senses and the life of the spirit were one, co-
existing without conflict in a poetic-philosophical view of human life.
With his poetry, he loved this life too passionately to become an ascetic
or a monk, and with his philosophy, he was too wise to give himself
up to the "devil". He could no more renounce women and song and
pork and wine than he could renounce the blue waters and the purple
mountain-sides, and at the same time he was far too profound to put
on the garb of ,a shallow, cynical fop.
The best illustration of the attitude of the young and fun-loving
poet is the story of how he tried to bring an austere priest and a
courtesan together. Abbot Tatung was a severe old man of saintly
character, and it was said that people who wanted to see him in his,
retreat had to take a ceremonial bath. Women were of course for-f,
bidden his chamber. Su Tungpo was one day visiting the temple with a
party in the company of a show-girl. Knowing the priest's habits, the
party stopped outside. Su knew the old priest well and felt a devilish
urge to bring the woman in and break his monastic rules. When he
went in with the show-girl to pay their respects to the old abbot, the
latter was visibly displeased at the young man's impudence. Su said
he would write a song of apology and make the show-girl Miaochi sing